The Iraqi government launched a night raid on armed factions accused of firing Katyusha rockets into the Green Zone, the Iraqi army, and international coalition forces.
The government's recent move came within the framework of previous pledges of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to “restrict weapons to the state” and “no party or force has the right to operate outside the state.”
Kadhimi previously warned Katyusha-launching groups that they will be prosecuted according to the anti-terrorism law.
The Iraqi Joint Operations Command issued a statement announcing that the Iraqi army arrested 14 suspects for firing rockets at the Baghdad International Airport and heavily guarded Green Zone.
The statement added that the arrest was based on intelligence information that the group had previously targeted those areas with gunfire and rockets. It added that a special investigation committee was formed by the Interior Ministry to complete the investigation on the suspects.
The statement also revealed that the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services (CTS) conducted the raid to detain suspects who are "wanted by the Iraqi judicial council".
“The defendants have been handed over to the security services until the investigation is completed and a decision is made by the judiciary,” concluded the statement.
Following the raid, armed factions paraded over 30 government vehicles in the Green Zone at Friday dawn, and it approached the headquarters of the Counter-Terrorism Services, the statement stated that these parties do not want to be part of the state and seek to remain outside the authority of the Commander in Chief of legal armed forces.
The Operations Command stressed that this behavior is a threat to the state’s security and its democratic political system, and cannot be allowed under any pretext.
Armed groups affiliated with Iran tried to promote that some of the detainees were released and the prime minister offered his apologies for the raid, which was denied by the release of the statement.
Although the joint command did not name which group the detainees belonged to, security observers and sources close to the government said they were members of Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades, which are loyal to Iran.
The sources said that the security units raid targeted the group’s headquarters in al-Buaytha area, in the south of Baghdad, and indicated that the operation was preceded by another operation, during which three members of the brigades were arrested.
The members confessed to carrying out the Katyusha shelling that occurred near the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in the Green Zone and the headquarters of the CTS near Baghdad International Airport.
The government and groups supporting it insist that the operation targeted the outlaws, and not members of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), as sources close to Hezbollah Brigades stressed it was necessary to maintain the relationship between the PMF and the CTS.
Member of Asaib Ahl al-Haq Naeem al-Aboudi tweeted wondering who would benefit from sowing discord between the PMF and the Counter-Terrorism Services, warning against the consequences it could bring to Iraq.
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki stressed that PMF is an element of power for the Iraqi nation and country.
“We should respect this force and maintain their position,” he tweeted.
He added that Iraq also honors its CTS forces and their sacrifices for the nation, noting that it is impermissible to attack these and other national security forces. Maliki went on to call for restraint from all sides and resolve problems without foreign intervention.
In addition, the deputy secretary-general of the Iraqi al-Nujaba Movement, Nasr al-Shammari, warned against any attempt to attack the PMF and create internal sedition in these difficult times in the country amid the spread of the outbreak.